Basics of Reading Stocks

Reading a stock table or quote can be a little intimidating if you don’t know the basics of reading them. Most people believe you need a degree in mathematics or special training in a stock broker’s office to understand the stock market.

While it does take a certain level of mathematics, skill, and knowledge to make money in the stock market, it doesn’t take a Wall Street whiz to read a stock table. There are twelve columns that make up a stock table. By breaking down each column individually you will have a working knowledge of reading a stock/quote table.

From left to right looking at a stock quote, columns one and two tell the observer what the highest and lowest price that stock has traded at over the past year (doesn’t include the previous day’s trading). Column three names the company that the stock belongs to, if there is no special symbol or letter (“pf”- preferred stock) it is called a common stock.

The next column is the ticker symbol, it is a unique alphabetic name which identifies the stock. Column five indicates the dollar amount each share receives, if this space is blank the company doesn’t currently pay out dividends on their stock. The next column is the dividend yield, which is the percentage of return on the dividend calculated yearly per share divided by the price per share. Column seven is called the price/earnings ratio, which is determined by dividing the current stock price by the earnings per share over the last four quarters.

Next you have the trading volume column, here is the number of shares traded for the day. Nine and ten columns is where you find what was the highest and lowest price that stock was sold for for that day of trading. When the market closes, the eleventh column displays the last trading price at the close of the day. The final column is where you find the number whether it’s a plus or minus, tells the trader and the public if the stock was up or down from the previous day’s trading.

The stock table isn’t as intimidating once you know the basics. Now that you have a working knowledge you may want to stick your feet in the Wall Street waters. Confide in a reputable trading platform for more details. The Internet is a great source of information that will help in the decision process.